Freshman Profile: Already Liberal

Glenn Ricketts

The current CHE features some survey data about the attitudes of last Fall's incoming college freshman class. In the first place, they think that they're pretty smart: more than 71% rate themselves as "above average" students. Given the extent to which grade inflation has also seeped into the secondary education level, there's probably a legitimate reason for them to think so. Secondly, although there's a fairly even split between those who self-identify as "liberal" or "conservative," the distribution of attitudes in response to specific questions about social issues such as gay rights, global warming or government health care skews pretty heavily to the liberal side. Aha, noted one of the commenters:

We often read the opinion that college professors are putting all these "liberal ideas" into students' heads. Seems to me that this class is already arriving with some fairly liberal ideas.

To me at least, this isn't especially revelatory: for quite some time it's seemed obvious that high school curricula have eagerly embraced multiculturalism, feminism, "diversity" and environmental activism. If the aforesaid "liberal" professors were seeking to convert anyone, they won't need to work very hard. True, they may come across the occasional Christian evangelical or determined free marketeer, but they'll probably be able to count on many of the other students in their classes to back them up in correcting such heterodoxy. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine that students already supportive of gay marriage or environmental activism will encounter any serious intellectual challenges to their beliefs. Instead, they'll more likely be reinforced by the secuar equivalent of High Theology.

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